A suspected Russian spy managed to work undetected at the USA embassy in Moscow for more than 10 years, American counter-intelligence have discovered.
The Russian national, a woman, was hired by the U.S. Secret Service and came under suspicion in 2016 during a routine security sweep carried out by the State Department, according to sources quoted by the Guardian.
The woman had been working at the US embassy for over a decade before American investigators found that she was having unauthorized meetings with Russian security officials, the Guardian reported, citing an intelligence source.
According to United States officials, that was because she was being fed information in order for investigators to see for themselves that she was passing it along to Russian intelligence.
It said foreign service nationals (FSNs) who work for the US are known to be vulnerable to foreign intelligence influence, particularly in Russia, and that the Secret Service manages their access and permissions under the assumption that they are under the control of Russian intelligence.
The Guardian has been told the RSO sounded the alarm in January 2017, but the Secret Service did not launch a full-scale inquiry of its own.
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In a later statement, the Secret Service said: "Reports of the timing of the individual's termination in question and the closing of the Secret Service Resident Office in Moscow correlate in any way are false".
Members of Trump's national security team said that US intelligence officials are anxious Russian Federation and perhaps other foreign powers will look to interfere in November's midterm elections.
The CIA has downplayed the role of the alleged spy, claiming that Russian nationals are hired by the embassy merely for the objective of "translation, interpretation, cultural guidance, liaison and administrative support". The foreign office found her being hand-in-glove with FSB, Russia's premier security agency, during her near-decade association with the American high commission.
The state department declined to comment on allegations related to the new reports, but said it was aware that "US government employees, by virtue of their employment with the U.S. government, may be targeted by foreign intelligence services ... when we identify an employee in violation of security directives, we take appropriate action at the appropriate time". In a statement released to CNN, the department stated the following.
In this December 2016 photo, Russian policemen stand guard in front of the US Embassy in Moscow.
Declining to comment, the State Department simply said the following. Punitive action, however, was not taken as the matter was being probed.